Monday, December 18, 2006

Married to the Mob.

Ever since the 2000 election, when Vietnam combat veteran John McCain burst onto the scene in the Republican Presidential primaries as a 'moderate alternative' to George W. Bush, it seems that he has led a charmed political life. George Bush is known to detest McCain personally, but he has needed him. Liberals held their fire because every now and then McCain throws them a bone (in fact John Kerry wasted valuable time and effort trying to convince McCain, who was the chair of the Bush campaign in Arizona, to defect and run on a ticket with him; what it also meant was that when John Kerry picked John Edwards for the ticket, everyone knew he was a second choice.) Independents ooze over the conservative McCain (and conservative he is, just look at his voting record,) as if they think he is one of them. Even Bush backers, like Pat Robertson (who thoroughly trashed McCain in South Carolina) have warmed up to him.

And one of McCain's biggest assets, according to most of these people is that he eschews negative campaigning.

There is a good reason for that though. It's a tale that involves organized crime, corruption and murder. Let's say that John McCain never runs a negative ad against his opponents because he doesn't want them to dig too hard.

It's because McCain is where he is because of his marriage to his second wife, Cindy. No, Cindy Hensley McCain is not where the story begins. She was a young 25 when McCain married her (he was 43). According to the Arizona Republic on June 5, 1999, McCain joked that his marriage was based on a 'tissue of lies.' Both he and she had lied to each other, she claiming to be older than she was and he claiming to be younger. Yeah, I know-- what a good foundation for a marriage to start off on. To their credit the McCains however have stayed together. Or maybe there are other reasons...

One wonders what Cindy told McCain about her father. When did McCain learn how his father-in-law Jim Hensley made his fortune? Sooner or later he had to be dealt in on the 'family jewels.' After all, they helped finance a run for Congress and not long after that for the Senate.

Jim Hensley and his brother Eugene went to work after World War II for Kemper Marley, a wealthy wholesale liquor distributor. Marley, in fact, had once been a bookie, getting his start working for the Transamerica Wire Service, a betting service established by mafiosi Gus Greenbaum (who was murdered with his wife when their throats were slashed in bed in 1958). Until 1947, liquor was rationed by the government. Apparently Marley did quite well in spite of the restrictions, and in 1948 the reason why became clear. Eugene and Jim Hensley were convicted of falsifying records on behalf of Marley's distributorship, United Liquor (along with fifty other Marley employees) to conceal the illegal distribution of hundreds of cases of liquor. Jim Hensley got a six month suspended sentence.

In 1953, Jim Hensley, then the General Manager for United Liquor, was once more charged for doing the same thing again. Marley paid for top notch legal representation though (future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.) Hensley still went to prison, but took the fall when the rest of the company was cleared. According to an article in American, Marley rewarded Hensley for his loyalty to the organization:

When Hensley strolled out of the joint, Marley bought his silence with a lucrative Phoenix-based Budweiser beer distributorship.

That distributorship and the rest of Marley's empire did very well over the decades for both Hensley and Marley, making both men multi-millionaires.

In fact, Marley was interested in more than just liquor. In 1976, then Gov. Raul Castro, a Democrat, appointed Marley, then a billionaire and the state's richest man, to the state racing commission.

And that's when one of those pesky investigative reporters got in the way. The reporter's name was Don Bolles and he worked for the Arizona Republic. Bolles discovered a land fraud ring and other crimes that appeared to lead to Sen. Barry Goldwater and other movers and shakers in Arizona. And he discovered that Kemper Marley, newly appointed to the State Board Racing Commission, had connections to the Mafia. In fact, Marley was a close associate of Peter Licavoli, the mob boss for Arizona. Marley had also served as Chairman of the Board for Valley National Bank, which helped bankroll Bugsy Siegel's construction of the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Digging into Marley's past also uncovered his earlier work for Gus Greenbaum. The revelations forced Marley to resign from the commission.

And Kemper Marley and his associates in the Mafia weren't people whose business you interfered with lightly.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles climbed into his car and was blown apart by a bomb under the driver's seat. Pieces of his body were strewn around the parking lot. Bolles amazingly survived for eleven days and said to investgators on the scene, "They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John (Harvey) Adamson."

Adamson was later convicted of the murder. But who hired him? That trail was never really followed up on, according to members of the Arizona Project, a group of reporters who began looking into mob ties after the murder.

Following Bolles' death, more than 30 journalists from the then-newly formed Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) group arrived in Phoenix to carry out their late colleague's work....

Don Devereux, another Arizona Project reporter, feels the IRE team may have trusted the authorities too much. "We accepted very uncritically their scenario. In retrospect, we were very naive to get lead around. It really isn't something that we should be running around congratulating ourselves about," says Devereux of the IRE investigation...

"The biggest disservice we did to Bolles was not paying more attention to him," says Devereux. "His dying words were words we should have glommed onto a little more seriously, because when he was lying on the pavement he said: `Adamson, Emprise, Mafia. ... Emprise was almost Bolles' white whale. He was obsessed by them...."

Emprise, a Buffalo, NY based sports concessionire with known mob ties, had a circuit of Greyhound racing tracks in Arizona. So who was named to the Racing Commission was of vital interest to Emprise. Enter Kemper Marley. Exit Kemper Marley, courtesy of Bolles.

The Phoenix police theorized that Marley wanting revenge enlisted the help of local contractor Max Dunlap. Dunlap then allegedly hired Adamson to carry out the bombing. Adamson claimed that plumber James Robison assisted him.

Over the years, Dunlap and Robison have maintained their innocence. Dunlap remains incarcerated.** Although, Robison gained acquittal in a retrial, he is still awaiting release from prison on a related charge. Meanwhile, the state paroled Adamson [in 1996], and he disappeared into the federal witness protection program.

The Phoenix police never even arrested Marley, who died in 1990.

**-- Dunlap has since died in prison after the source article was published.

Meanwhile, Jim Hensley remained a close confidante and associate of Kemper Marley. In fact, it was Bolles who wrote that the Hensleys had bought Ruidoso Downs horse racing track in New Mexico on behalf of Marley. Eugene Hensley later sold the track to a buyer linked to Emprise (linked here as described in the Phoenix Gazette, Jan. 4, 1990.)

One thing that Marley and Hensley didn't have-- governmental authority themselves. They had to depend on their friends in government to help them out. But then Hensley got a gift-- his daughter married the former Navy pilot and decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict, John McCain. Hensley knew right away what to do. According to an article published in 2000 by the Phoenix New Times,

[McCain] retired from the military in 1980, divorced his first wife, wed Arizona native Cindy Lou Hensley and moved here to plunge into the world of politics. His first job in Arizona was as a public affairs agent for Hensley & Company, one of the nation's largest beer distributors. He was paid $50,000 in 1982 to travel the state, touting the company's wares. But he was promoting himself as much as he was Budweiser beer. A better job description might have been "candidate."

Then in 1982, McCain ran for Congress. That takes some quick money, and McCain had access to it-- thanks to his father in law (whose employees at his liquor distributorship were 'persuaded' to donate thousands of dollars to McCain), and one of Hensley's friends, Charles Keating of the Lincoln S&L (I won't get into the Lincoln S&L scandal here because it is pretty well known by now that McCain was one of the 'Keating Five.') To seal the deal, Jim Hensley and Cindy Hensley McCain invested $359,100 in one of Keating's projects. In fact, when McCain first ran for the Senate, in 1986, even Kemper Marley, through his son Kemper Jr. (who was now running United Liquor-- Marley himself had become politically radioactive) donated money to him.

It has been said that the Mafia never really left, they have just moved upscale. That is certainly the case in Las Vegas, where the casinos are corporations and run in a businesslike manner (so a Bugsy Siegel would be an anachronism, but I'm also not sure I'd want to make an enemy out of some of the folks who have those offices on the top floor.) The original Cosa Nostra may have been largely broken up, but the remnants of the Mafia are still around, mostly in fat family bank accounts and people they have helped push into positions of power, and John McCain is privvy to one and is the other.

Cross-posted at Night Bird's Fountain and Coalition for a Republican-Free America.


Anonymous said...


I got it posted!

Eli Blake said...


Anonymous said...


And I thought McCain wasn't such a bad guy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think the way he has somehow marketed himself as an independent, transcendent somehow, has been frighteningly masterful. I worry that people will not see through to the real picture about him. He's slick.

I think he also got alot of mileage out of his supposed "reform" ideas. It imprinted somehow, people are stuck with this idea of McCain.

Thanks for posting Eli. You can always post an excerpt and then link back to here in TBR forums too- see FAQ's on sidebar. I had hopes that the regional sections would be more heavily utilized but it doesnt seem like people post alot of state related issues. You can though if you want, you have alot of AZ info.

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way I will link this because I think he will be their man come 2008. We have to get moving now!!!

Zelph said...

The Phoenix New Times did an article about McCain's mob connections back in Feb. 2000:

Other recommended reading about the role of the mob in the Arizona Republican Party is "Green Felt Jungle", although this doesn't mention McCain since it was published in the early sixties. It does mention Rosenswieg and Greenbaum.

This is a subject of particular interest to me.

Eli Blake said...


Thanks. I will look for that.

I think it is going to take a full court press between now and the election to educate people about what John McCain is.

Zelph said...

I think it's up to us bloggers to educate the public about McCain, since the Arizona media won't (with the possible exception of the Phoenix New Times). I plan to talk about this on my radio segment on KPHX this weekend. The role of organized crime in Arizona politics is a fascinating subject. Sadly, it's not just Republicans who were involved. Democratic Governor Raul Castro also had connections with Kemper Marley.

Eli Blake said...


Yes, in fact as I mentioned in the post it was Castro who appointed Marley to the racing board.

However, this stuff is out there (it exists and McCain can't bury it all) and I have a feeling that sooner or later one of his political opponents will use it to drop the hammer on him. But it will be up to bloggers to make darn sure that it happens-- we can't afford to let this man become President.

Tahoma Activist said...

If McCain is okay with this kind of crap, maybe he was okay with all the CIA drug-running in Vietnam. Does anyone know if he was involved in that operation or linked to anyone who was?

vbspurs said...

Just to say howdy, Eli. Thanks for your kind words. :)

I shall read this in the morrow!


Anonymous said...

i can't wait for the end.

LadyLiberty said...

Make elections honest (ie. count votes) or convincing people doesn't really matter in the end. check out Built-in independent recount mechanism. Election cannot be stolen.

Anonymous said...

So is this better or worse then being a Senator For Life / President / Attorney General when your father was a Nazi-loving, booze smuggling gangster? Just askin'

thewindmariah said...

It would be much more beneficial to have the souce , (actual) documented so that we may see it for ourselves. Otherwise, I cannot be sure of what is fact and what is being added as an "opinion." We have no hero's anymore. Our society has climbed on the bandwagon to become as slezy as we want to be. Why?(because we can.) THAT is called freedom. We have soiled it. Our country has already been trashed. We alone can make the right choices. DO THE RIGHT THING. Don't lie, don't cheat, don't scam. Call your kids. Support your kids. Don't cheat on your wife/husband. Get an education. Examine yourselves and don't fret about the OTHER GUY so much.

Anonymous said...

Must you be spoonfed everything. Take the article as food for thought then do some fact checking yourself. Surely records of arrests and backgrounds can be found on the net if one cares to look. Be your own source.

levotb said...

The writer, Eli, has it quite wrong at the beginning of the piece. McCain is no conservative! He's an pro-war Democrat in the vein of Scoop Jackson "with an edge". He votes with Democrats more than 50% of the time. He's with Ted Kennedy and other liberal Dems as the co-father of Amnesty for illegal aliens, something he's still pushing. He led the Gang of 14 which along with liberal Republican Arlen Specter kept Bush from getting thru much needed constructionist Fed. judges. He called those Americans who oppose Amnesty for illegal aliens "xenphobes and bigots". And I'm not even mentioning his role in The Keating Five scandal which he walked away from unscathed. He wants to keep our military in Iraq forever.

A conservative? No. A pro-war Democrat? Yes. Next to The Keating Five, his push last year for Amnesty for 30 million lawbreaking foreign nationals (because he won't stand up like a man and state that they should be deported due to his ties to big business that depends on cheap, illegal labor) is his most defining legislation that the People shut down.

levotb said...

The writer is mistaken. McCain never was and never will will be a conservative. A RINO, maybe. A pro-war Democrat, definitely. He's voted with the Dems on key issues for decades. His being pro-war doesn't make him a Republican. Neither does the most defining position of his career--siding with his friend Ted Kennedy to co-father the last Amnesty bill in the Senate that We the People shut down. Conservatives don't form The Gang of 14 to block Fed. constructionist judges selected by Bush from winning confirmation. And McCain-Feingold certainly wasn't an example of conservatism.

Anonymous said...

Hey levotb, Ya moron! He's the candidate of the party. That pretty much makes him a Republican.

Anonymous said...

It is alway great to know that there is leaders(McCain and Palin) out there willing to work with the people and not for themselves, unlike Obama that seams to only work with the democratic people and there views. Like McCain said "we are all one, american people that need to work together." GO McCain And Palin!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


You make it clear who you are by your incorrect English. Perhaps you will read about subject/verb agreement.

In reference to McCain, "Cash" does not equal "Class"....and then again, you already know this.


Anonymous said...

All of this has been known for a long time. The 40 "Arizona Project" reporters dug it all up in 1977. With the exception of Arizona it was thoroughly reported throughout the nation. Then nearly forgotten.

Today, however, it must have take some really powerful people to keep it buried while the William Ayers controversy is being shouted from the mountaintops.

Anonymous said...

It's July 2009. Where is McCain?
How do Arizona folks allow all this to happen? All that desert is being wasted. The boys in Vegas learned what to do with all of their desert. Perhaps we'll be able to use it a lot following the American Revolution of 2010 that will certainly reduce the population and help repair the economy. No?

Kirby Johanssen said...

Hayworth will make a great Senator.

I'm surprised this didn't come out during the campaign last year, maybe McCain made a deal to stuff it and he wouldn't talk about Jeremiah Wright.

Eli Blake said...


While I disagree with you about Hayworth (he was my representative for a few years before redistricting and he was a terrible congressman) I agree that this stuff is there, and McCain has clearly put a lot of work into keeping it under the rug. But those kinds of things have a way of exploding at the least opportune moment.

Matt said...

You need to look at Mccain's public service to Arizona.
Maccain hasn't done such a bad job for the people!
He was in the military. That makes him a devoted American!
He has a lot of good values.

Anonymous said...

Was a friend and neighbor of Don Bolles, Paul Dean, and Charlie Greenbaum (Gus's brother) in a little apt. house in the 60's and heard much confirmed info. Worked for Valley National Bank of AZ, as Br. Mgr.,(The Mafia bank) and forwarded many phone calls to the Trust department when the U.S. Nat. bank bond scam was going down. While going to college, worked for A.L. Moore & Sons Mortuary, the favorite funeral home for the Mafia and their local victims. Know personal friends of Adamson, died in prison for Don Bolles murder, Kemper Marley advised Adamson, by messenger, that his entire family would be killed if he implicated him.

Eli Blake said...


Not surprising, for Kemper Marley.

And I doubt if everyone who is in control now is just so clean-as-the-wind-driven snow and didn't at least know what was going on with the last generation.

Anonymous said...

40 th "anniversary" of Don Bolles murder ...
It was a tough time for the family as dons widow and daughter , Diane , returned to Phoenix
To be a part of the Tributes and Memorials ...

Unknown said...

Interesting,understanding my grandfather's links to his associates in Arizona which estanlished his well-being in Texas as well as his future generations.